Desire To ‘Reinvigorate’ Drives Radio Shack Search

The need to create a “reinvigorated shopping experience” and a change in business strategy that includes a “new growth objective,” as described in the RFI, are powering Radio Shack’s search for an agency to handle its $250 million business.

Radio Shack will look at a diverse list of shops—from large holding-company agencies to small boutique shops, said CMO Don Carroll. “We’re looking for strategic thinking,” he explained. “Our business model is being revolutionized by how we’re going to market.”

While traditional retailing in neighborhood stores remains its core business, Radio Shack is also merchandising wireless communications for Sprint and other partners in kiosks that do not necessarily bear the Radio Shack logo. “The people who work there are our employees, but you wouldn’t know that,” Carroll said.

The departure of chief brand officer Jim McDonald—the former Young & Rubicam executive credited with bringing the Fort Worth, Texas-based company’s entire account in-house in 1998—is also a factor. McDonald was let go on January 13, after president and COO David Edmondson replaced Leonard Roberts as CEO. Roberts remains chairman. In what Carroll called a “consolidation,” McDonald’s duties were combined with Carroll’s.

The review—to be managed by Dallas consultant Cindy Kenyon—follows an aborted “brand project” search last year [Adweek, Sept. 28]. Carroll said changes in top management short-circuited plans at that time to seek ideas for reshaping its brand identity.

This time around, the winning shop, expected to be named in mid-April, will have a chance to propose a new tagline to replace “You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers,” Carroll said. Circle R Group, Radio Shack’s 150-person in-house shop, will continue to work on the business in some fashion, he added.

Among those receiving the RFI and intending to return it, sources said, are Interpublic Group’s Campbell Mithun in Minneapolis, Deutsch/ LA in Marina del Rey, Calif., and Foote Cone & Belding in New York and Chicago, and Publicis Groupe’s Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco and Publicis in Seattle.

Shops that received the RFI but will or may not return it due to conflict, sources said, include Omnicom’s GSD&M in Austin, Texas (SBC), and BBDO in New York; and independent The Richards Group in Dallas (CompUSA). The shops declined comment or were unavailable.

The RFI is due back Thursday, with contenders to be chosen by March 1. The review committee will visit shops on March 10. Committee members include Carroll, marketing vp Joel Carter, brand development vp Kieran Hannon and senior director for online marketing Tracy Wallingford.